Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thing #16: registering completion of the programme

So we've finished the, ahem, 23 things programme and out last task is to take a reflective look back at the programme.

Highlight: getting a few comments on my blog!

Lowlight: at point getting 3 things behind and feeling the book token slipping from my grasp.

Favourite: Although twitter is my favourite of all the technologies as it's like having a big ole archival party going on at my computer every day, the most useful new technology has definitely been making a website with google apps, which I didn't know you could do and will definitely use in the future.

leas favourite: Technorati and Rollyo. They required way too much input for too little output, in my opinion. They didn't integrate with any other sites that I was using and generally seemed a bit detached from the rest of the web and thus not so useful.

I've enjoyed the 23 things programme and it's been good to know that the university considers learning how to use these tools to be part of our job. Certainly I shall keep experimenting with web 2.0 - I've just joined tumblr to try to learn how that works and whether it could work better from archives services than flickr does.

So thank you, and good night!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thing #14: Create a podcast (again)

Thing #14 said we had to "create an audio or video file – a 3 to 5 minute introduction to yourself.". I've chosen to use a snippet of an oral history interview that I've conducted in my role here at the University, because I think it's the best introduction I can give to my job.

Firstly, because I speak very little in it and let the interviewee do the talking. This is the hardest thing about doing an oral history interview! It also shows the difference between an archivist and a historian or an archivist and a curator - we let the past speak for itself, be that through living people or through old documents.

Secondly, because it conveys some of the wonderful surprises I have in my job. In oral history interviews you never know what the interviewee is going to say. This interview had been fairly routine for half an hour and then he told me two anecdotes about Rag Week in the 1950s that I wasn't expecting and really add to our knowledge and understanding of the Polytechnic, as well as giving me a good laugh. Similarly a box of papers can look really dull and then turn up some absolute gems. In the last year I've found handwritten letters from Quintin Hogg, photographs of women fencers from the 1920s and correspondence arguing about the cost of typewriters. All of tremendous value to our researchers.

Thirdly, and lastly, because there is no point in having archives if no-one knows they're there. When our website is revamped we hope to include snippets from our oral history interviews online. The collections are already open to the public but we need to show them then riches within them. So this is a technique I hope to be using then so now seemed like a good time to practice it!

This should hopefully take you to the file on my University google docs page: podcast . It's not quite 3 minutes but it is very funny, so I hope that counts.

Thing #15: Social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter

ah, the easy Thing! As a digital native (I'm a bit too old to fall into the usual definition of this term but as my dad works in IT, I grew up around computers), I'm already on all three of these sites.

The 'Thing' asked us to get started on these sites (too late), learn more about what we can do on them, and consider their usefulness.

Facebook: I use facebook only for connecting with people who are my friends in the real world - and so I only have about 30 friends on there. I might sometimes cross-post amusing links between there and twitter, but generally I keep the two separate. People on twitter don't want to hear about my cat, people on facebook don't want to hear about my job.

Twitter: I've been on twitter pretty much since I started at Westminster, having come from working at a bank where web access was very much locked down. In that time (18 months) I've gained (and kept) 600 followers, which I'm pretty pleased with. The vast majority of these are other archivists, from the UK, Germany and North America. It took me a while to find my voice on twitter but now I use it very much as I would to talk to a colleague in the office - sharing interesting enquiries, tasks I'm doing, amusing items from the archive and professional news. So that it doesn't sound like an archivist robot is tweeting, I do mention things from my personal life, like gigs or theatre performances I'm going to, but try to keep it to a roughly 80/20 professional/personal mix. Twitter has been very useful for keeping me plugged into the professional world and for networking. I attended a conference recently in canada and already knew about half a dozen people there from twitter, and met up with another archivist who lived there but wasn't at the conference. I've had lots of help with german translations I'm doing for the archive, and in return have helped a german archive with translating their webpages into english.

LinkedIn: I'm on LinkedIn, and have been for some time, but haven't really done much with it other than join, and add people I know. I can see that for people with other jobs, such as a consultant or freelancer, it could be a very useful tool but I struggle to apply it in my own line of work. Ultimately I see it as having my CV online but not much more.

So I would say that I think social media is very useful in both a personal and professional capacities, but for me it works best when you keep the two separate, and have a very clear idea of what you're using them for.

Thing #14: Create a podcast

I'm coming back to this one, bear with me while I get the necessary technology sorted.

Monday, August 8, 2011

ICA- SUV conference notes - where have they gone?

If you're looking for my notes from the ICA-SUV conference I attended in Edmonton July 2011, these have now moved to a new blog at

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thing #13 Create your own website using Google apps

Well, Thing #13 has taken me nearly a month as work has been so frantic but I'm finally on it and ta-da:

I present my website on the subject of the Polytechnic Chalets in Luzern. The website should be visible publically to anyone who has the link so please let me know if it doesn't work.

As instructed I've created a home page, added two pages below, embedded a video, news and a widget. And all together it took me about half an hour!

Prior to this task, I wasn't awar of the possibility of creating mini websites in Google and I have to say I'm impressed. It reminds me of ye older Geocities websites, but infinitely more user-friendly.

I can definitely see a use for this in a work environment. We have recently been redesigning our web-pages and I mocked it all up in Word to send to the web team. It would have been a lot easier to create a little draft site in google and send them the link to that, and I shall definitely use this for proposed future micro-sites.
It would also be a great way of sharing information and images in a structured, hierarchical way, without clogging up people's inboxes.

So, bigs thumbs up for google sites.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thing #12: Online applications

Thing #12 is using Googledocs, which we have access to within the University at present (although whether the changes later with the roll out of Alfresco remains to be seen).

Googledocs is something I have used extensively in my personal professional life because I've moved between organisations relatively frequently, so I upload work I want to take with me (presentations, conference papers, articles I've downloaded, manuals I've written). Many of these I refer back to surprisingly often - a class I taught for the London Consortium became the basis of a talk I gave for ARLIS, ( now being turned into a book chapter) as well as the starting point for a session for Visual Culture students here at Westminster. I might change the archive examples I use within them but the general message usually remains the same.

However I use googledocs seldomly in my day-to-day work here at westminster because we have other document and information sharing within our department (L drive, shared email inbox, as well as all the databases stored on CALM). I mostly use the googledocs for our monthly reports, and then only when my line manager in on holiday and I am doing them in her absence.

The archive did create a RAID log on googledocs associated with our digitisation project, because we were involving IT colleagues in the tendering process. Looking back at this RAID log I realise we completely failed to update it when we completed the tasks involved because it ultimately only affected the two (now three) members of the archive team and well, we knew we'd completed those tasks. We probably should have a been a bit more conscientious about doing this though, as a way of keeping track of our project.